Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts about Second Life on my Birthday

I had just turned 18 when I entered Second Life. Today is my 23rd birthday, and I'm all grown up. I thought that I was already a big girl at 18, having put away childish things. But, I did a lot of growing in those intervening years. Now, when I look back at my 18 year old self, I realize that she was only on the verge of adulthood and not quite there yet, no matter how much she thought otherwise. That's what I would tell all the younger teens who are now allowed to reside in Second Life. And, I was fortunate in Second Life to have a wonderful circle of friends, naturally older than myself, I was 18 after all. In my circle were notable role models whose examples influenced my attitude and behavior in this virtual world. Still others were mentors and protectors who shielded me from the dark sides of Second Life. Someone once remarked that I was like a princess with knights in her service. They reinforced my conviction that you should never compromise your values in virtual worlds and loose your soul to their underside. Well, I am a big girl now, and Second Life had a not so small role in paving my way to adulthood. So a lesson to younger people in Second Life - choose your friends well. Of course, your parents have already told you that.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

My dear Grandmother loved to play the piano and entertain us with song. At family events, she would always sing an old Shaker tune - Simple Gifts. It became my birthday song. And, on every birthday, its lovely melody brings me to contemplate the simple gifts that I have been blessed to receive - the Love of God, the Love of Family, and  the Love of Friends. So simple and so precious. They sustain me in this life and give me hope for the next. And on this my 23rd birthday, I invite all of you to please join me in a toast to simple gifts.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm Not a Wallflower but I Feel Like One

"There's no one around to take me dancing," I lamented to Stevie. It looked like the start of a slow night. No one was online, and the prospect of spending a dull hour in Second Life clearing out and organizing my inventory lit a fire under me. I wanted music and dance, and to look and feel glamorous for an evening. There was a live music event at Oz - the perfect venue for glamour. But I would have to go alone without a date, and that's always troublesome. Go to a live music performance. especially at the clubs, and notice all  the unattached women on the sidelines. There are just not enough unattached men attending these events. Who was that economist who said supply creates its own demand? He never went to a music venue in Second Life. But, these are probably the best places for men to meet and chat with women in Second Life. We love the music and have our favorite performers to whom we are very loyal fans. And we like to dress for the occasion and be seen and to see what others are wearing.  Where's the demand?  Perhaps it's largely at Zindra, Second Life's adult content continent (yes, a whole continent), where men consort with escorts of dubious gender. Well .... that demand I can do without.  Anyways, I went to Oz confident in my ability to attract my share of attention. I had on my dancing shoes. But, I ended up on the sidelines with the other girls wistfully looking at the couples on the dance floor. I not only felt like a wallflower ...  I reluctantly admitted to myself that I fit the description (sob).
Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

Mariko Nightfire, wallflower (sigh)
What a blow to self esteem. I listened to a couple of songs, went back home, opened my inventory and went  to work deleting items. I found a plethora of horrid dresses: mostly freebies - slutwear and whatnots.  I was trying  on some of the slutwear for a good laugh; but, deleting most in mass. What a pathetic sight - Mariko modeling slutwear to an audience of one while laughing maniacally. The gods must have taken pity on me because Jaysun came inworld and invited me to go dancing at Judy Blue's. I eagerly put on my dancing shoes again. The music, dances, and the crowd at Judy Blues are always so much fun. The theme for the night was the Olympic Games. So everyone was dressed in either ancient Greek garb or modern Olympic wear. And there was a Best Dressed Contest. So, I quickly changed into my Kallisto dress right on the dance floor and put on my Bacchus hair wreath. Jaysun put on Greek armor. Jay and I were in our element as we won a best toga contest before. And we won again - in Jay's case, it was the display of his boxer shorts under his tunic that swayed votes - how clever of him. Well, my self esteem immediately returned. What a complete and very pleasant reversal of fortune. I guess I have a charmed second life. Thank you Jaysun and providence.

Shantu Selene sings You and Tequila
Dancing in Second Life is getting better and better. Remember the old days when dance animations were barely 5 seconds long, and everyone would just put themselves in autopilot and go through the same 5 second movements over and over again? Or those crudely choreographed and hilariously slutty dances like we love you girl and danish. Thank goodness times have changed. Today's dances are produced with very talented dancers whose movements are wonderously reproduced with motion capture technology. With the wide choices of dances provided at the music venues, guys can now actually lead by selecting dances that choreograph well with the songs. Jay is really good at picking just the right dance. And I like selecting dances for the songs performed by my favorite live performers, especially those sung by the legendary Shantu Selene, in real life, Danny Bowman. In the video above, I'm dancing to You and Tequila sung by Danny Bowman at his venue in Sheffield, Illinois, Brothers' Pub, and streamed into Second Life for his fans. This is a live performance by Danny and isn't it marvelous. 
Related posts: 
This is an excellent website on ancient Greek Armor:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Photo Mariko - I'm Back

It's been a long while since my last blog post. A heart-breaking tragedy and the sorrow and pain in its aftermath made coming in world very sad. At times, it was too sad to bear.  But, I've started coming in world more often now, and I thought to ease back into blogging with a Photo Mariko. I need an opportunity to smile. So I went through my picture archives to select a set of pictures that warms me to Second Life.  That helped a lot. I'll begin with an egocentric picture. I dropped my aversion to egocentric lead pictures and will lead with a picture most egocentric. When Syd saw this picture, his reaction was 'Whoa ... I wanna to see the back of that dress.' Such a mind ...

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

Lulubelle gave me this clockwork birdie that she found at the bottom of her inventory. The birdie actually flies, and he's big enough to ride. I've been flying him all around Opar, my country estate. I sent a copy to Owly Indigo, knowing that she collects all things avian in Second Life.

I unexpectedly ran into Pixi (opixiqo mumblewood) at Blarney Stone. It's been ages since I last saw her. So, I'm really glad that we renewed our friendship. Her avatar is so whimsically fabulous.

Jaysun and I took a carriage tour of Central Park one evening
at Midnight Manhattan Reverie.

Midnight Manhattan Reverie is an upscale New York inspired community on the sim Virtual Reverie. It features a re-creation of Manhattan's Central Park and surrounding areas. Midnight Manhattan Reverie was designed and built by my friend Lora Chadborne.

Midnight Manhattan Reverie

Note the flipflops on Jaysun's feet. For more on flipflops see:

Sometimes I go exploring by teleporting to a random spot on the Second Life map. Never know what I might run into. I met some people fishing in a swimming pool. 'Eh, What's up, Docs?,' I asked. 'Vampire fishing,' they answered.

Be careful of what you fish for. They were vampire fishing too.

A vampire fishing enthusiast. What's the significance of the number 65?

My friend Leena Ying, owner of DrLife, took me for a joy ride in the attack helicopter she built. Not only does she make the most artistically advanced skins in Second Live, Leena also builds the most advanced military hardware in this virtual world.

Schoolgirl Mariko
I bought this schoolgirl uniform at  a shop selling fashions that are a bit risqué (my friend Aika is a model there). It seemed cute and innocent enough. I spent a day looking cute and innocent. So I thought. Unbeknownst to me, in addition to crayons and markers, the school backpack wantonly displayed shocking and horrid items. So rather than cute and innocent, I was a walking advertisement for ... 

I was considering adding a new feature to the blog - Mariko Uncovered - where I would model sexy lingerie. After taking some preliminary pictures, I didn't think that I could make myself look sexy enough, so I gave up the idea. Besides, I was showing too much butt.  Sorry Syd.

I dropped in on the Zombiepopcorn Carnival. Not a zombie in sight. They must have heard that I was coming. Isn't this wreath fabulous. It's a Bacchus wreath from Vita's Boudoir. The matching outfit is a single grape leaf. I'm certainly not going to wear just that. So I went shopping at an ancient Greece role playing sim and found this cute dress.

Zombie Hunter (October 29, 2010)

Vita's Boudoir

For some reason, I enjoy rezzing food. It gives me a very happy feeling. I especially like seafood and found this wonderful seafood restaurant. It's amazing what you find in Second Life - palaces, castles, intergalaxic spaceships and simple pleasures like a seafood restaurant.

An old friend dropped in on my dining terrace at my villa in Opar. Anakar may look fearsome; but, he's actually very polite and gentlmanly. I sat him at the table and rezzed him a banana split while I had an ice cream sundae, and we chatted about how much Second Life and ourselves have changed since we first met nearly five years ago.

I spent some time with a hookah smoking caterpillar. The poor creature was suppose to enlighten me with words of political wisdom; but, he was incoherent and really didn't know what he believed and why. He talked more about policy and programs than about philosophy. As he prattled on, it was clear that well meaning intentions were more important to him than meaningful results and unintended consequences are always dismissed and scoffed at, after all the intentions were noble. Was his brain addled by what he was smoking? Well, he was smoking progressive politics and inhaling deeply.

I'm always shopping for poses because I write a fashion blog, Mariko Magic.  Now this pose would be perfect for modeling sexy lingerie. Maybe I should reconsider that Mariko Uncovered feature.

A small party celebrated Jaysun's 5th Rezz Day - that's me, W.K. Ganesvoort, Jaysun, Lulubelle, and Painter Meriman. All three men are architects in real life. Lulu and I seem to know a lot of architects here. The object that we're all standing around is a cuddle cupcake.

A Cuddle Cupcake ... What a Wonderful Idea!

Recently, we took a tour of Leesa Donnor's newly designed Solitude Garden at Truthball. It was very lovely and convinced me that Opar needs an updated new design. Well, when I get around to it. I'm in the photo with Jaysun, Amalia Jumanja, and Johnny Firehawk.

This is a nice picture of Jaysun. Note the flipflops.

DC5 Harbour at Open Latte, circa 2009

I saw that someone had posted a comment to my last blog post . What a wonderful surprise. It was from a old friend, DC5 Harbour. DC was one of my favorite people in Second Life and a good, good friend. He left Second Life a long time ago, and I haven't heard from him in a couple of years. So this 'Hello, how are you?' was so unexpected. DC was visiting my homestate of Hawaii with his family. Thank you DC, for thinking of me.

Danny Bowman (Shantu Selene) singing "Dancing in the Moonlight"

Shantu Selene was a pioneer live music performer in Second Life and one of the best performers ever in the virtual world. In real life, Shantu is Danny Bowman, a professional musician and songwriter. Danny now has a real life venue in Sheffield, Illinois called Brothers Pub where he occasionally takes the stage and performs the sets he played in Second Life. Although no longer performing in Second Life, Danny streams his show on the internet to the delight of his Second Life fans. I stream them at Opar my country estate, and, before each performance, I email Danny with my requests for songs. I've also been experimenting with making videos of his songs. The capture software I'm using is not very good; but, I hope you enjoy the two videos that I've posted. Danny is singing "Dancing in the Moonlight" and "Who'll Stop the Rain" just for me.

Rockin' and Rememberin' with Shantu Selene (September 11, 2009)

Danny Bowman (Shantu Selene) singing "Who'll Stop the Rain"

How fragile we are and how ephemeral our existence in this world. And, when the dear and most gentle among us are so inexplicably taken from us, I have to call on my faith and trust the wisdom of a loving God. Faith tells me that the spark of what we are will not be extinguished; that we are not destined for a dark void of nothingness. The spark of what we were in this life shall kindle a flame in the next that will burn beyond the end of time. And when our day comes to leave this world,  we will be greeted and comforted in the hereafter by the glow and warmth of those gentle souls we so dearly miss. Rest in peace, Tomomi.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mariko Magic: Kallisto - A Dress for a Goddess

Look up into the night sky and you'll find Kallisto there among the constellations. She's the Great Bear (Ursa Major) circling the North Star in the company of her son, the Little Bear (Ursa Minor). Kallisto wasn't always a bear. Her name means 'most beautiful' in ancient Greek, and she was a most beautiful nymph who caught the roving eye of the great god Zeus. More of her story later. The fashion that I'm featuring is inspired by the myth and is fittingly called Kallisto. It's a dress made for a goddess and is available at GizzA Creations.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing

Kallisto was the daughter of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, and a beautiful creature of nature who roamed the mountains of that wild country and hunted the beasts of its forests as a companion nymph to Artemis, goddess of the hunt and of young girls. She vowed to remain a virgin as do all the nymphs of Artemis. But that was not to be as she became the object of Zeus's desire. The great philandering god disguised himself as Artemis to lure Kallisto away from the other nymphs. It must have been a most shocking moment for poor Kallisto when her beloved goddess revealed how happy she was to see her. Months later, an angry Artemis banished Kallisto from her coterie of nymphs when Kallisto's pregnancy was noticed while bathing. Kallisto gave birth to a son, Arcas. It was then that Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, took her revenge and transformed Kallisto into a great lumbering bear. Hera's revenge was almost complete when Arcas, now 16 years old and hunting in the forest, took aim with his silver bow and arrow to unwittingly slay his own mother. But, Zeus quickly intervened to prevent the tragedy by grabbing the bear by the tail and hurling her into the night sky. The god then transformed Arcas into a bear and likewise hurled him into the night sky to join his mother. And so, Kallisto and her son took their place among the constellations and together roam the night sky forever circling the North Star.

The Constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor

Kallisto was designed by Giz Seon, the designer of stylish high fashion at GizzA Creations. Kallisto comes in eight colors: black, red, pink, lilac, golden, aqua, salmon, and pearl. I am wearing pearl. Kallisto sells for L$450. The skirt is somewhat shear. Instead of wearing the white glitch pants, I'll wear white panties to create a look that is more .... charming. It also shows off my legs to better effect when walking or dancing.

The hair that I am wearing is from DrLife and is called Mariko. Yes, this hair was named after me by my dear friend Leena Ying, owner of DrLife. Mariko uses DrLife's All Color system with which you can create a wide range of colors and highlights for the hair, all for one price. Mariko is priced at L$350. The jewelry that I'm wearing is from Artistry by ~E~ and is called Kim. The jewelry at Artistry by ~E~ was highly recommended to me by my friend Lulubelle. The designs by Endra Graves are outstanding. The Kim set consists of necklace, earrings, and bracelet. It sells for L$375. The individual pieces in the set can also be purchased separately.

GizzA Creations

Artistry by ~E~

DrLife skins and hair are available at Mariko, my fashion boutique located on the Grand Rue at Mont Saint Michel:


These pictures were taken at Majesterium, a magnificent build by the amazing Patch Thibaud located in Cheval de Mer:

Majesterium, Cheval de Mer

My friend Meimei Shiu also blogged Kallisto (in black) on her fashion blog. She looks fabulous in the dress.

Meimei Shiu

Friday, April 20, 2012

Photo Mariko - Sojourns in Faraway Places

The opening lines of Emerald Wynn's recent  blog post,  humorous as always, set me thinking and made me extremely self conscious about leading off this post with an egocentric picture of myself. So, I'll put that picture second and lead this post with a Japanese teahouse ablaze in windlight. Well, that looks pretty. And, it eased my conscience knowing that I didn't follow the blogger herd with a leadoff exercise in narcissism. Plenty of time for that later.  Now, please don't let this lead picture give you the impression that I'm any kind of virtual artist. I belong to the instant coffee school of Second Life photography. I just find an interesting view, fiddle with some windlight, and snap the picture ... photography as easy as instant coffee. Most of the time, I don't even bother with windlight.

Emerald's Eyes by Emerald Wynn is my favorite favorite favorite Second Life blog:

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

Egocentric Picture
Given the extraordinarily mild winter along the east coast, the cherry trees are flowering early in the Northeast in a spectacular show that is now in its final act. It truly deserves a standing ovation.  That show has its Second Life counterpart in Islamey, the Garden in the Sky, located in Chouchou.

Japanese Teahouse in Islamey, Chouchou
I introduced Chouchou in my last post.  It's a fascinating place composed of 3 major regions: The Babel, Momento, and Islamey. The Babel and Momento are very abstract, very intriguing, and very creative. But, it's to Islamey that I will return again and again. This Japanese garden is breathtakingly lovely and at the same time very tranquil.

Jaysun and I had tea at Islamey. Jay brought his own personal tea with him which he shared with me. It's called Chernobl.

Islamey in Chouchou
Islamey, Chouchou

My previous post was located in The Babel, so let's go to Momento. The centerpiece at Momento in Chouchou is a monumental cathedral. It's stark and very minimalist. It looks almost skeletal.

There's no flying in Chouchou; so, you have to walk. And it's a long trudge to the cathedral and a long climb up the stairs to the top of the cathedral. To give you a sense of the size of this build, those two little specks in the entrance of the cathedral are me and Chisaki.

Exploring the cathedral in Momento, Chouchou
This is not an egocentric picture because Chisaki is absolutlely adorable here and definitely outshines me  She's the center of attention in the picture. I'm a little obsessed right now with this egocentric thing.

Momento in Chouchou

I like finding town squares in Second Life that have an Old World ambiance. This one in Amia  is very nice. There's a little al fresco cafe here where you can sit at a table and enjoy the atmosphere...


... if you can overlook the pigs in the fountain.

A pleasant surprise in the square is this corral with its lovely horses. Although these horses are absolutely adorable, this is an egocentric pic. I'm an unnecessary part of this picture. In fact, it would be a better picture with me left out of it.

Broadway actress/singer Tamra Hayden in concert as Tamra Sands in Second Life. You should definitely catch her live performances. They are part of what makes Second Life so special.

Tamra Hayden's website

Obviously, an egocentric picture.
The Loneliness of Being is a work of contemplative art by artist Ian Pahute. Its setting is a small remote island with a comfortable campfire and a evolving cloud of ever changing words drawn live from the Internet. I don't see words here, only ephemeral letters from the alphabet. Well, if I was stranded on a desert island and going insane, I might see such hallucinations. 'Others see hidden meaning and personal insight', so claims the write up on the work. A e k P o t L ... anyone see any hidden meaning in that? How about personal insight? Anyways, it's a lovely spot. Check it out and contemplate.

The Loneliness of Being

Principato di Melioria
In Latin, di melioria means 'heaven send us better times.' For many history buffs, there is no better time than the 18th century. And there is no better place to immerse oneself in the Age of Reason than at the Principato di Melioria. I mean, where else can you find a discussion group discussing  'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shady, Gentleman', the favorite novel of Thomas Jefferson and his wife.

Principato di Melioria

A role player at Principato di Melioria

This role play sim is an island principality off the coast of  Massa Lubrense near Naples, Italy in 1780. It is a secret retreat for many European royalty and is known for its temperate climate, brilliant social pleasures, and curative waters. The ruling family is originally English, and the spirit here is of the Scottish Enlightenment of John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith rather than  of the French Philosophes, thankfully. It's very well done and an interesting place and well worth a visit.

What the camera saw.
Some time ago, Stevie and I spend a pleasant hour dressing up and taking pictures in the grotto under the Villa Vesuiana in Westphalia at Principato di Melioria. A camera can catch an unguarded moment. But, is Stevie really checking me out?

Speaking of the 18th century, I took this picture of Lulubelle in period costume at Chateau de Versailles. Chateau de Versailles is a role play sim and an extraordinarily ambitious project to  recreate, in accurate detail, the royal court of France anno domini 1773. The palace of Versailles in Second Life is an incredible ongoing achievement - a Second Life Treasure. So,  put on your best Marie Antoinette impersonation and experience the salons and court life of 18th century France, even if you have to put up with those insufferable philosophes of the French Enlightenment. Let 'em eat cake. 

Chateau de Versailles

Jaysun is a role player at Chateau de Versailles. Jay is a noble of high rank and has an apartment in the palace near the chambers of the queen. Moving forward in time to 1793, I hope we don't see Jay being led up the steps to the guillotine at the Place de la Concorde, the natural conclusion of the French Enlightenment. But, knowing Jaysun, he would have been one of those nobles with the foresight to immigrate to Philadelphia, the capital of the new republic of the United States of America (the natural conclusion of the Scottish Enlightenment is the United States, Land of Liberty).

These are my two kittens, Yum and Jet, at my villa in Opar, my country estate.  You can see that this is an egocentric picture; but, those kittens are absolutely adorable. And it's a nice picture to end this post.

Dear Reader, visit my estate as my guest: